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A Note From Karen Keim


As a little girl on Christmas morning, I woke before the sun, breaking the silence of our home as I hurried downstairs. Our Christmas tree lit up the darkness with one string of colored lights. The lights twinkled under the shiny balls, tinsel, and homemade ornaments. Sometime during the night, presents had appeared under the tree. There was one package for each of us. No labels. Full of curiosity, I lay under the tree in my nightgown. My excitement grew. This was a special moment, one that happened only once each year. I waited—not so patiently—for my mom and dad to wake up so we could get on with our Christmas morning traditions.

As I reflect on that moment in time, I realized something: my memories are not made from the traditions, but the feelings those traditions create. My memories are made from the moments that connected me to those who made me feel loved and special. All the lights, decorations, gifts, music, candles, food, and gatherings create those special feelings. Our traditions are built around us—our families, our friends, who we are, what we like, and what was important to us. They are born out of our relationships with each other, the connection we have, and our understanding of each other.

Now as a mother of three young adult children I’m becoming to feel understood by my children. My daughter shows this to me in her Christmas shopping. She is a planner and she has been observing throughout the year to figure out what might make people happy or meet a need. That's one of the things that I love about her. It takes an intentional effort, but it meets her goal of being able to do her shopping before products become limited. It also makes her gifts more meaningful than the ones that are given just because it was on my list. I feel understood. I feel like she’s getting to know me better than she otherwise would.

Sometimes, the most thoughtful gift doesn’t have to be a gift that you open. Last year, my three kids chose to give the gift of song to our extended family members as they counted down the days until Christmas. They sang a Christmas song every day and sent it via social media. It was a simple way to give themselves to others to spread joy.

My hope this Christmas season is that we all embrace the joy and connection in the relationships with those we have around us.

From my home to yours,

Karen Keim